Self-Directed Learning: How Students Can Take Charge of Their Education

How does having full control of your learning process sound like? Self-directed learning integrates the best practices to help students learn effectively. It is all about taking responsibility for your own progress and development. Continue reading the article to find out more about self-directed learning and get our tips on how to take charge of your education. 

What Is Self-Directed Learning?

Talking about different ways to gain knowledge, one should definitely consider self-directed learning. It is an educational process that is entirely controlled by a learner. He or she may or may not use the help or guidance of other people, setting study goals and choosing fitting strategies to achieve them. Self-directed learning also involves a student in diagnostics of his or her learning needs and result evaluation. 

Self-directed learning is not only about informal education. You can use it as a college or university student as well. Modern curricula offer students a variety of creative assignments and courses that allow them to take the initiative and make choices about their learning. 

Self-directed learning has become a common trend in educational settings. It helps to create a meaningful learning environment where people are actually motivated to gain knowledge and be mindful of the process. It empowers learning outcomes through better understanding and memorization of concepts.

If you are a student, your institution offers you some learning materials. Yet, there are plenty of other resources and opportunities that can help you go above and beyond in your studies. Looking for information outside school, you will double your progress and reach your learning objectives way much faster. 

For example, let’s say you want to improve your writing skills. To start with, you will google the topic and look for some tips online. Probably, you would like to practice some exercises. Another good idea will be to ask a professional writer to write an essay for me to get a top-notch sample of good writing. It is an opportunity to observe and analyze writing techniques in the actual piece and use them in your writing. This simple example illustrates how self-directed learning helps you to develop individual learning strategies and hone your skills. 

Today, learners can use a multitude of opportunities to pursue knowledge. There are plenty of online resources, tutorials, and lessons. Besides, one can enroll in massive open online courses (MOOCs) on platforms such as Coursera, Udacity, or edX. They offer materials prepared by top universities. 

To find out whether you are a self-directed learner, consider: 

  • Have you ever researched a particular topic, not for school, but just because you are interested in it? 
  • Does learning new skills or crafts bring you joy? 
  • How often do you pursue knowledge on a topic that is not connected to your school assignments?
  • Do you have any educational apps on your smartphone? 
  • Do you try to learn something new when you have free time? 
  • Have you ever considered volunteering as a way to learn new skills? 
  • What are your motivations to learn: obligation or interest? 

Do not worry if most of your answers are negative. Self-directed learning is challenging and requires some extra practice and motivation. Here are some tips that will help you become more conscious about your learning. 

How to Become a Self-Directed Learner?

Nobody can deny the role of teachers in the educational process. Yet, no matter how hard they try to motivate students and support their learning, any progress is hardly possible without students’ willingness to study and take the initiative. Therefore, to become a self-directed learner, you need to understand your role and responsibilities in the first place. 

  1. Make sure that you are actually ready to learn. This involves identifying your goals and objectives. You need to know what you want and envision the outcomes of your work. 
  2. Develop a proactive approach and willingness to take the initiative. Motivation should come from within. 
  3. Structure your study sessions. You will need to think about the sequence of activities, time frames, and evaluation procedures. 
  4. Create a list of topics beforehand to have a clear focus. Successful learning requires detailed planning. 
  5. Find resources that work for you. Some people prefer audio materials, others like visuals more. Explore different learning styles and choose the one that suits your needs. 
  6. Join study groups. Being a part of a learning community is helpful as it keeps you accountable. Besides, you get a chance to collaborate and share your experience with others, enriching your learning. 
  7. Monitor and evaluate your learning progress and results. It involves a great deal of self-reflection. Compare your progress against your learning goals to identify gaps in your skills. It will make the process more meaningful. 
  8. Find guidance if needed. Note that self-directed learning does not exclude academic help. In case you struggle with a certain issue, contact your instructor or refer to services that provide academic guidance online. 

Final Thoughts

Self-directed learning is a chance for you to be more independent and self-sufficient. It makes your learning process meaningful. In today’s world, self-directed learning is more than a learning strategy. It has become a necessity that allows people to keep pace with rapid development. It boosts your progress, offering rich experience and more in-depth learning. So, do not hesitate to start your own learning path.